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Posted 12/26/2022 by EnvironMolds, LLC

Clay Modeling with Oil-Based Clays

Clay Modeling with Oil-Based Clays

Oil-based clays are the perfect material for sculpting, mask making, mold making, special effects and clay animation. Different grades of plasticine are available from top brands for varied applications.

Clay is a product of choice for modeling applications. But which clay do professional artists use? Is it the regular water-based clay that tends to dry on exposure to air? Well, these clay molds tend to turn hard and even brittle very easily, even to the extent that it becomes unusable.

Enter the world of oil-based clays – named plasteline, plasticium, plasticineor
plastilina clay! Made with wax and oil with clay flour as the binder, the special feature of these clays is that they do not dry or shrink. This makes them the perfect medium for sculptors and mask makers for artistic, special F/X and even prototype modeling. The mold will never harden and remains reusable as well. In fact, the clay will always remain the same consistency as it was when first used!

Plasticine clay comes in three different varieties:

School grade – This is considered an amateur version of plasticine. It does not contain sulfur. This makes the clay stiffer and a little bit harder to model with the fingers. A broad range of striking colors are available. School grade plastilinais generally used in the claymation field of movie production and advertising.
Professional grade– This version contains sulfur which makes it smoother and renders a homogenous texture, making it a professional choice of artists.
Industrial grade– This is usually a very hard form of clay that needs to be heated prior to use. It is most commonly used by designers in the automotive field for car models. While it is not usually available in the retail market, industrialists, FX professionals and even some hobbyists prefer to use industrial grade plasticine in their artworks.

Softening Plastilina clay

Many artists soften their clay before use. Changing the grade consistency can be achieved by heating. While a microwave seems to be an easy option, keep in mind that sulfur clays are better kept away from an oven as it can get overcooked and emit unpleasant odors. Even when it comes to non-sulfur clays, the desired consistency can be achieved through trial and error only.

A better option is to use to a 60-watt light bulb. Place the clay at a distance of two to three feet from the bulb for about twenty minutes. The heated clay becomes soft and has to be kneaded with a little bit of oil till an even consistency is achieved. Alternatively, small quantities of microcrystalline wax can also be added while kneading.

Hardening is possible by placing the clay in the refrigerator for 30 to 40 minutes before working with it. However, this will not be permanent.

Different options of plasticine clay are available for
clay modeling. Roma Plastilina is a premium material whileDel Milano is a budget option. Chavant offers industrial grade version for different applications. Choice of colors is also available.

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